FAQs on Lymphatic Drainage Therapy

Still curious? Below are some FAQS about Lymphatic Drainage Therapy, click on the questions to read more.

1. How does the therapist do the technique?

In LDT, practitioners have been trained how to detect the specific rhythm, direction, depth and quality of the lymph flow anywhere in the body. From there they can use their hands directly on the skin of the client to assess overall circulation and determine the best alternate pathways for draining body-fluid stagnations. They then work with flat hands, using all the fingers to simulate gentle, specific wave-like movements. These subtle manual maneuvers activate lymph and interstitial fluid circulation as well as stimulate the functioning of the immune and parasympathetic nervous systems. This specific technique was developed by the French osteopathic doctor Bruno Chikly.

To learn more, visit: http://www.upledger.com/content.asp?id=27

2. That all sounds interesting…but what the heck is the lymph system?

So this is kind of a long and complicated story, but I’ll do my best to describe it simply.

Every time your heart beats, the blood in your body is circulated towards the extremities (arms, legs, etc.) via the arteries. The blood in the arteries carries oxygen from the lungs and nutrients, proteins, minerals, etc. to the cells in your body. Let’s call these nutrients, particles and molecules “produce.” The produce then exits the arteries via the capillaries. The cells then exchange their waste products, which are created in the metabolism of the nutrients and molecules, for the fresh produce arriving from the arteries.

There are two sanitation crews that then come along and clean up all the waste (like when you put out your trash, and a nice garbage man comes along and takes it away for you). The sanitation crew is made up of the veins and lymph vessels. The veins pick up about 50% of the waste products, that is then sent back to the heart and then filtered through the liver, spleen, etc. to be cleaned out before the fluids are returned to general circulation. Only 50% of the waste is picked up by the veins because the walls of the veins are very small. The opening to the veins are intentionally small so that viruses and bacteria are kept from getting back to the heart. So what about the other 50%? If you’ve ever been in NYC during a hot summer day when the sanitation crew hasn’t been by, you know that 50% is an unacceptable amount of waste to have sitting around. That’s where the hero of the story comes in, the lymph system.

The lymph system picks up what the veins can’t pick up. Because the openings of the lymph vessel walls are larger, the particles that get picked up by the lymph system are larger. This means that potentially viruses and bacteria may be entering the lymph system, so it has to be ready for anything.
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3. How come it’s ok for the body to send viruses and bacteria to the lymph nodes?

Actually most of what we know as the immune system cells resides in the lymph nodes. As the waste passes up the vessels into the nodes, the immune cells scan the markers on everything that passes by them to see if there are foreign agents present before the fluid gets returned to the heart. It’s like a firing squad looking through your recycling before it gets put on the truck back up to the heart. When there is a potential threat, a battalion of immune cells are created to deal with the invader. That’s why you get swollen lymph nodes when you get sick, the nodes swell because of the production of new cells that will go out into the body to look for more of the virus or bacteria in the body.

When everything is going well in the lymph system, you don’t even know it exists.
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4. So what does the lymph system have to do with swelling in the body?

When something goes wrong in the lymph system, fluid builds up in the affected limb or area, and that can lead to a lot of trouble (think sanitation crew going on strike and the piles of trash that backs up).

This trouble can range from mild swelling to lymphedema. Lymphedema is a serious problem where the lymph system fails or gets so backed up that a limb can swell many times beyond its normal size – severely impairing the use of the limb.
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5. Why does the lymph system get backed-up?

While not all causes for a swelling or lymphedema are known, some of the common causes are inflammation, damage to the vessels or by the removal of lymph nodes (a standard procedure in a lot of cancer treatments).
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6. How can LDT help?

A well-trained therapist can help re-route fluids that are building up so that the area can drain properly. For many people with mild to moderate swelling, this can give them great relief from swelling post-surgery, injury, or even after an allergic reaction.

For those with sever cases of lymphedema, LDT alone cannot drain the affect area, but is often used in conjunction with pressure bandages. A great resource for info on pressure bandages is www.bandagesplus.com.
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7. Can you help me with lymphedema?

I am trained to perform LDT only on mild cases of lymphedema (in the very beginning stages known as zero to first degree). Anything beyond mild cases, bandages will be necessary and I am not trained in bandaging.
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8. What conditions benefit from LDT?

  • • Manage symptoms of asthma
  • • Decrease sinus headaches, congestion, and migraines
  • • Alleviate symptoms of concussions and post-concussion syndrome
  • • Reduction in edemas/swelling and lymph edemas
  • • Post-surgical regeneration of tissue
  • • Relief of chronic pain
  • • Reduction in the symptoms of chronic fatigue syndrome and fibromyalgia

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